glishara: (Default)
So, I have been not-talking a lot about #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe and the host of issues surrounding them, not because I’m not following them and not because I don’t care, but because in this moment, and in this time, I feel like the best thing I can do is to signal-boost actual black voices.

But I have a couple of things I want to say specifically to white people, things that have informed my journey to the very imperfect place I’m currently hanging out, somewhere in the land of “I’m more conscious of exactly how fucked up my perspectives are,” far short of “I’m actually enlightened,” but past the marker of “I understand that enlightenment is somewhere over there.

I really wanted to find the study this fact comes from, but my google skills failed me today. A few years ago, I read a study about racial injustice. The study showed people an act of racial injustice, and then asked them to rank the severity of the act. The trick, in this study, was that before they asked for their ranking, they offered participants the opportunity to confront the person who was being racist.

There were three conditions in this study – the control group, who never had the opportunity to protest, those who were offered the opportunity and took it, and those who were offered the opportunity and did not take it, remaining silent.

Is it a surprise to anyone that those who were offered the opportunity to confront the perpetrator and did not ranked the severity of the incident lower than the other two groups?

To me, the obvious conclusion of this study was that every time we back down and silence ourselves, we justify it by telling ourselves that the world isn’t really that bad. We blind ourselves to real injustice because it lets us feel better about ourselves and about our unwillingness to right the wrongs that surround us.

Every time we say, “These men should have cooperated with the police,” as a response to “These men shouldn’t have died,” that is what we’re doing. We’re seeing an injustice we don’t want to fight and finding ways to make it less. If your son, or daughter, or brother, or father had been engaged in a non-violent criminal act and had been shot dead, you would not be saying, “He should have cooperated.” You would be railing against the unfairness of it.

But pointing out the criminal act makes it okay. “We’re not saying , ‘Black lives don’t matter,’ we're saying 'Criminal lives don’t matter'…"

And we’re ignoring the fact that they DO… when they’re white criminals.

I also want to say that it’s OKAY to not want to pillory the policemen in this case, and still to say there’s a problem. My hand to God, I do not know how I feel about Darren Wilson. I wasn’t there. There are a lot of different accounts of what happened. He had a second, and he thought he was in danger.

But the REASON he thought he was in danger was almost certainly informed by the fact that Michael Brown was black.

In How Our Brains Perceive Race, by Bill Moyers, he talks about the "Weapons Identification Test".

“Images flash rapidly on the screen, and your task is to push the left shift key if you see a tool (a wrench, or a power drill, say) and the right shift key if you see a gun. You have to go super fast — if you don’t respond within half a second, the screen blares at you, in giant red letters, "TOO SLOW." But it’s not just guns and tools flashing on the screen: Before each object you see a face, either white or black. The faces appear for a split second, the objects for a split second, and then you have to press a key."

Spoiler alert: when the black face appeared, people were more likely to misidentify the object that appeared as a weapon when it was actually a tool.

We hear about this story a lot, too – a black man (or child, in the tragic case of Tamir Rice) who has a toy gun is shot because it is believed to be real. Or a man reaching for a wallet (Levar Jones) is assumed to be reaching for a weapon.

Did Darren Wilson believe his life was in danger? I don’t know, but I believe the answer could be yes. Just like it might be for Timothy Loehmann, for Sean Groubert, and for many other officers involved in these shootings. I fully believe it is true for at least some of them.

In a way, the argument reminds me a bit of the discussion over babies forgotten in hot cars. It takes a split second error, and the results are tragic and horrifying and irrevocable. Darren Wilson fired those shots, but it could have been any of a number of officers. It could be any of us.

One of my issues with the prosecute-the-officers perspective is that it feels like a reverse of the issue I talked about earlier – by blaming the individual men, we overstate the contribution of the individual and understate the general societal evils. We want to believe that most people aren't capable of doing such an appalling thing -- but most people probably are.

I have a lot of other thought, in varying levels of cogency, and I may talk about them at some point. But for right now, I just want to say this: Something is wrong, and it is, for better or worse, wrong with me, and probably with you. If you had bad vision, you wouldn’t keep getting angry with people for pointing out that you were misreading things. You would get glasses. We need to acknowledge that we, white America, need glasses. And we need to take people seriously when they offer suggestions on what those glasses might be.
glishara: (Default)
So I don't think I've blogged about this yet, but we have a for sale sign in our yard and a prequalification in my inbox and around $6K in the hands of various contractors and a realtor and around 40 hours of cleaning chores still pending before our first open house, which will hopefully be in around 9 days, if we make it into MLS by then.

Whee.
glishara: (Default)
Do you know why I have such a hard time with Vorkosigan slash?

I realized it today, while DRUNK OFF MY ASS and rereading my own pornfic.

Because I cannot imagine that Miles is both gay (or bi) and NOT ALREADY IN MAD SEXY LOVE WITH DUV GALENI.

That is all.

This entry is brought to you by lime juice concentrate, lots of ice, and plenty of tequila.

The end.
glishara: (Default)
This is the absolute funniest thing I have watched in at least a month. Hands down.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/joachim_de_posada_says_don_t_eat_the_marshmallow_yet.html

Near the end, there is video of kids trying to not eat a marshmallow.
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I've been teaching the kids French, since I am That Kind of Parent. We haven't gotten very far, but we can do bonjour, comment vous appelez-vous? and numbers to 5 and that sort of thing. I've been trying to introduce ça va into our conversations, and Wes is having trouble absorbing it and the possible answers, which for now are bien, mal, and comme-ci comme-ça.

So today, as I do periodically, I call out, "Bonjour, Wes."

Wes replies with his practiced, "Bonjour, mom!"

"Ça Va?"

He stares at me blankly for a moment, and I repeat: "Ça Va?"

He brightens and triumphantly crows: "COOCHIE COOCHIE!"

I love my kids.

Politics

Mar. 6th, 2012 09:38 pm
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I am celebrating Super Tuesday by writing a letter to Olympia Snowe telling her why I fangirl her and thanking her for her commitment to her own ideals and our country's best interests. Also, I am saying that I am sorry she's retiring, but I understand why she is.

It has made today much more happy-politics than it otherwise would be.
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I keep thinking I've been desensitized and numbed to the kinds of rhetoric that happens in elections, and then something happens to set me on fire with rage and hatred.

This is the most openly ill any election season has ever made me feel, though. I can't even get to anger, because I am stuck in queasy horror.

Seriously, this was my PARENTS' fight. How, HOW, did the issue of BIRTH CONTROL and PRENATAL TESTING come up again, in the year 2012?

And what the everloving FUCK is wrong with Virginia? For real, you guys.

This feels like a bizarre twilight zone version of an election. Are these HONESTLY the candidates we have? Honestly? How the hell did this HAPPEN?

lol

Jan. 28th, 2012 07:10 am
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Kids are hilarious.

Wes just lost a debate with me and started to slink off in a half-pout, falling dramatically into the doorframe and saying, "I need to have breakfast! I'm sooooo hungry. I am SPANISHED."
glishara: (Default)
So, as promised, I update again.

To start out: man, having a cat is AWESOME. Katie is awesome and wonderful and absolutely the perfect cat for us. She loves to play and chase and climb, but is also a cuddle factory. She will climb onto laps and demand petting and scratches from anyone in the family except Sebastian, of whom she is (sensibly) wary. She slept on Lorraine's bed Thursday night, and our bed last night. She's wonderful.

In work news, things continue to go really well. I was worried, taking this job, that I'd been demonizing my last company, since it was my only really serious long-term job. I saw the bad, but not the good; I was going to be shocked by the realities of a big company and bureaucracy; I was going to find that a lot of what I hated was just the nature of the world; my skills were too specific to the proprietary system I was working in, and I was therefore going to fail.

But the reality of this place has been fantastic. There are more meetings, but they're good meetings, and well-run enough that they don't take up huge amounts of time. They also involve design and business decisions, so those are being formalized and dealt with in defined periods instead of being discussed over lunch and fallen into. I'm learning new technologies and writing quality code, already making some real, sizable contributions. I'm also benefiting from a fantastic support network, where people are doing a great job of helping me along without stepping on my toes. It's pretty remarkable.

The hours are reasonable; the commute is a little rough if I do it late, but no problem if I'm out the door by 7:30; the corporate climate is streamlined and effective; the work is interesting and challenging; and the whole team is empowered to make real decisions about what is best for the project, as long as they are willing and able to defend them to our tech lead.

It's been three weeks now: I suspect by 6 months I'll have my own host of things that bug me, but right now I'm kind of floating on a cloud of good-feeling about the whole thing. Life is pretty darn good.

Katie

Jan. 16th, 2012 06:40 pm
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Everybody, meet Katie!

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Katie is a very, very playful and intrepid kitty. When I went to fill out her paperwork today, she leapt right onto my lap to chase my hat. She talked to us all the way home. When we got here, we put her in her bathroom, which is the space you see in that first picture.

Of course, as you may deduce from the photo above, she did not STAY there.

When I slipped up to try to get the picture, she was waiting by the door, and came out, rubbed against my leg, and started picking her way downstairs right away. She explored the living room, then ran back upstairs when she heard the kids.

Did she go back into her bathroom? Oh, no, not Katie, Kitty Extraordinaire. She turns her nose up at bathrooms. Instead, she sniffed around the hall. With my cunning human brain, I said, "Hmm. I shall get her fun feather toy and lure her in with it."

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Katie loves her fun feather toy, and went "Yay! Jump! Jump! Pounce! Catch! Ca -- wait a minute. That's going in the BATHROOM." And then she went to explore Lorraine's room.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

She likes Lorraine's bed, and the slats of Sebastian's old crib. And the toy closet. And then she was back at the door, and I lured her with the feather toy again. Dance! Pounce! Play! Bath-- HEY.

She looked at the feather toy, looked at me, lifted her tail high up, and went in very deliberately to claim her prize.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I closed the door.

I acknowledge that she totally let me win, but it was satisfying anyway.
glishara: (Default)
So, I am getting a cat!

I was kind of expecting the adoption process to take longer, but this afternoon we went to meet the cats. The kids really wanted to meet a black cat they liked, but he refused to come out and see us. One of the other cats, though, was standing at the gate peering at us, so I asked if maybe we could meet her instead. She's a bitty little thing, 3 or 4 years old, but very little. She's black and white, and her name is Krinkles, with which I am distinctly meh, but hesitant to change, because opening it up to change means the kids will want input. For perspective, Wes's suggestion for what we name Sebastian was "Squashypom." We'll see if anything new springs to mind in the next little bit.

Anyway, Krinkles sprang right down and came to sniff at my hand and demand ear scritches. The space was very small, and we had three adults and three kids, so it was a bit overwhelming for her, but she loved all the petting, and when we got her favorite toy, a feathery thing she had forcibly detached from one of those fishing-pole style cat toys, she started pouncing around after it. We were intensely charmed.

So anyway, we got home and I filled out an application. It said I'd be contacted the next day, and we could talk about the situation and schedule a home visit, so I expected maybe a week to tie everything up. But they called tonight, and we chatted for 20 minutes, and they asked me to just send over some photos in the morning instead of a full home visit. Oh, and they'll be at the PetSmart tomorrow, so I can go by at around 6 to fill out the paperwork and take her home.

I will post pictures when I have them. I am so excited!
glishara: (Default)
So, I will post more about my awesome job of continuing joy in the next few days, but for right now, I have a question for my very knowledgeable and slightly cat-crazy friends list.

So, we have decided to adopt a cat. Decided enough that we've already bought most of our non-food supplies (I'll list them at the end of the post, and people can tell me what I'm missing).

We're going to adopt from a shelter, and we are currently considering whether we would be willing to adopt a cat with FIV. I've been reading up on it a lot, and the basic sense I'm getting is that it requires more expensive diet, more vet visits, and careful attention to when the cat gets sick so you can get them promptly to the vet.

We're willing to take on a cat that needs more attention or money than most, but I'm a little concerned that my info is coming mostly from websites that are basically "FIV cats are totally awesome" propaganda to convince people to adopt, which may be underplaying the downsides.

Does anyone have any firsthand (or secondhand) experience with FIV? If I'm not really confident about it, we won't undertake it, but a lot of the shelters around here have a 50-70% FIV-positive adoptable populations, and I know those cats have a harder time finding homes.

So, the list of stuff I've bought so far:
* Litter box
* Food bowl
* Water fountain
* Scratching post
* Cat bed
* Toys

We still need a carrier, but I didn't like any of the ones which were there. We also need some of the bitter spray to use on our computer wires, and a pair of cat nail trimmers. And a collar, which I don't want to get until we've chosen a cat.

Anything else I'm missing?
glishara: (Default)
So, I started my new job on Tuesday.

This has been a really tiring week, not because the work has been hard, but because I've had so little to do, and the sitting around is really exhausting. I had a full day of orientation on Tuesday, and a half-day of IT orientation on Wednesday, followed by 4 hours of sitting around waiting for a computer and rereading the same 40 pages of documents over and over again. They finally said, "Just give up and go home" at 4PM.

Thursday, I spent the morning reading a book on Hibernate which I brought in, and my computer showed up at noonish. I did a lot of online training and got it set up with my dev environment by the end of the day.

Friday, I played around with the app and attended our sprint planning meeting. I also retested some bugs, and, at the very end of the day, wrote some real code to fix an issue. It was a very heartening process, because while I needed help to figure out what class to be looking in (new UI, still feeling my way around), I spotted the actual problem before the guy who was helping me, and figured out the solution all by myself. My skills are definitely transferable.

So far, other than the stultifying boredom of being unable to get started midweek, I really like it. The team is smart and dedicated. They have a fair number of meetings, but they are really skillfully run, without a lot of waste time (our project manager is off-site, so a certain degree of administrative overhead is really necessary). There's good communication between the team and upper management.

What's really bizarre to me is the way the team gets in between 8 at 9 every day and leaves in the range of 4 to 5:30. And no one brings their computers home. Coming from a place where it's just expected that people keep their email active through the evening, and pings on IM come all the time, this has been kind of a shock, though in a very, very good way. I left at 4:50 on Friday, after fixing my bug (hooray!), and I was the last person there from my team.

So far, the only negatives that I can find is that the office building is incredibly dry. INCREDIBLY. When I wash my hands and dry them and step out of the restroom, they are instantly freezing as the air wicks all remaining moisture out near-instantly. I've ordered a good 1L water bottle from Amazon, and will probably be emptying it several times a day.

Oh! Also, there's no soda machine on my floor, just a coffee machine, so I have to go down to the mini-caf (which also has soup, salad, sandwiches, pizza, yogurt, fruit, etc) if I want a drink. Or just bring them in, which is what I'll really do.

The commute has been better than I worried. Traffic is sometimes slow at the end of my highway commute in and the beginning of my highway commute out, but it hasn't added more than 10-15 minutes to my overall drive, which ranges from 25-40 minutes. Generally, it's faster in the mornings and slower at night, mainly, I suspect, because the evening commute is all left turns.

In non-work news, Wes is reading his first real kid novel, instead of the little chapter books which are intended as easy-read books. He received James and the Giant Peach for Christmas, and is reading it completely independently. He's around a third of the way through now, and is enjoying it greatly.

Lorraine is a bouncy pile of awesome. She loves music and dance, and spent a lot of the holiday season regaling us with Christmas carols. Her reading is progressing a lot more slowly than Wes's did: I suspect there's less urgency, because Wes is always willing to read to her.

Sebastian is growing up fast. We've started moving him out of his crib by putting him in Lorraine's bed with her, which both of them really like. We have to be pretty firm about proper bedtime protocols, and have been making it a rule that after a warning or two, if he keeps trying to play with Lorraine or get out of bed, it's back to the crib he goes.

I'm having a bit of a hard time finding energy for leisure activity, around work and kids. When I get home in the evening and get dinner done and the kids down, it's about all I can do to take a bath and spend a few hours reading or watching The Wonder Years on Amazon Prime video. This weekend, I want to make cupcakes with Lorraine and do science experiments with Wes and laugh with Sebastian. And sleep. I need to get my body used to the new reality here.

I AM continuing work on Emperor, which is trucking along steadily, but I think I've decided not to post anymore until I'm done with the entire fic, since I can't say whether there will be a week or two months between chapters. In a few weeks, I'll start bringing my netbook into work to do some writing over my lunch break, which will mean steadier progress, but since the action is going to start to heat up in the next chapters, I don't want to end up leaving a cliffhanger for months. I'll finish it, hopefully by sometime this summer, and post it all in one go (or maybe a chapter every day or two).

With this decision, I can also feel less guilty about writing non-Emperor stuff. I want to try my hand at writing Doctor Who, and possibly Downton Abbey, with which I have fallen in love, hard. And there are so MANY Vorkosigan stories I feel like I need to write. I want to write the epic secret romance between Princess Kareen and Lady Alys not-yet-Vorpatril, which has been lurking in my backbrain for ages, and I still want to go back to my Ahn and Metzov fic from ages ago, and I want to play with Nikki Vorsoisson growing up in Vorkosigan house as a non-child of that dynasty, similar to my Growing Up from years ago. There's so MUCH to write in Bujold's worlds.

Anyway. That is where I am and how I am. More updates to come later, I'm sure.
glishara: (Default)
My family is very bad about accounting for the ages of our kids when we decide what to teach them.

For example:

My father bought Wes a bridge-building kit for Xmas. He has been talking with Wes about the structural integrity of various forms. Squares vs. triangles. Different kinds of triangles. They do experiments!

It is a bit nuts.

But really cool, as well.

Lorraine is loving her baby doll to bits. My favorite new thing she does with Baby is that she changes her at the right time of day. In the morning, she gets dressed. At night, she puts on her nightgown. Lorrie also likes taking Baby to eat with us at the table, though we usually insist she put Baby down for a nap on the floor nearby.

She's a very good doll-mommy.

Sebastian is growing like crazy, and falling constantly. He tends to hit his head, which means he has a constant interesting assortment of bumps and red lines and other disfiguring injuries which always mar his cuteness as the most convenient times.

I feel like I should say more, but I don't know how to articulate it all. Work has been crazy-busy, but my contract is getting renewed, so that's good. I am knitting my first pair of socks, using the AWESOME tutorials at verypink.com. Family continues good.

Go Pats.

The end.
glishara: (Default)
I have a giant TV I want to get rid of.

It still works, mostly, though the pic will occasionally get all blotchy and need an off/on restart to clear it up. (By occasionally, I mean every few weeks, more in the summer than the winter.)

It's a 57 inch plasma hdtv.

It's really, really, really big. It is 55" tall, 54" wide, and 24" deep at the widest points.

It is also heavy.

I'm going to give it away using Craigslist in the next week, but if there's anyone in my area (inside the NW corner of rt 2 and 495 in MA) who has a big truck or van and wants it, I'll earmark it for you.
glishara: (Default)
I went to a parent-teacher conference for Wes today, and his kindergarten teacher recounted this FANTASTIC story.

So, we asked, a few weeks back, that Wes be evaluated for sensory integration issues, and they pulled him out of class a while back to do the evaluation. The OT therapist has to be very neutral about the exam, so she says, "Good work," or "Good job" to each answer, not giving the kid a clue about whether it was right or wrong.

So, at some point, she's showing him flashcards and he's giving answers.

OT: Okay, Wes, and what number is this.
Wes: Seventeen.
OT: Good job. How about this one.
Wes: That last one wasn't really seventeen.
OT: It wasn't?
Wes: No. I was just seeing if you were paying attention.

Evaluating his abilities are such a headache. ;)
glishara: (Default)
So, haven't done one of these in a bit, I guess.

Sebastian is:

* Walking
* Saying some words (mama, dada, peekaboo, izzi (which means 'What is it' while point to an item), bubu (which means boobie)
* Doing pattycake
* Possessed of 4 teeth
* eating growup food (spaghetti, french fries, fruit, cake, ice cream, etc)
* laughing uproariously at himself right now as he runs around the room. He is SO PROUD of his walking ability


I post this for good-thoughtish goodness, now that I'm done picking nits out of my kids' hair. :-/

But Sebastian is awesome and adorable and SO BIG.

As are the other two. They just have trickier hair. ;)

Emperor

Nov. 15th, 2010 11:59 am
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So, what with me being absolutely crazy and all that, I'm off and rolling on Emperor with very little time passed since the end of Guerrilla.

I'm planning to post a chapter a week on a set day, so that I won't be tempted to post early and waste my buffer, and to start once I have the prologue and the first two chapters written. I'm around 1000 words into chapter 1 now, and still filling out the shape of the entire fic. I'm not entirely certain yet what the major themes will be, though a lot of themes from Guerrilla will be carried on. I'm also definitely going to have multiple POV characters in this one: Ivan, Mark, probably Cordelia, possibly Kareen, and possibly Mia Maz Vorob'yev. I'm not at all certain of the details yet.

But. One thing I'd really like to do with this one is have a more regular beta-reader than I had last time. My husband did pre-posting read-throughs for me, and I did multiple passes for spelling and grammar issues, but it would be good to have someone who isn't listening to me constantly ramble about awesome new themes and ideas look it over, too.

So I'm putting it out here: is there anyone who'd be willing to do beta-reading duty on Emperor for me? I'd be looking for a version of beta-reading that looks for out-of-character behavior, awkward phrasing or grammar errors, typoes, and then a sort of feedback on what you see as the major events of the chapter, what the turning points are, and what repeated themes you see in the chapter from earlier in the fic, so that I can get a feel for whether I'm accomplishing what I intend to.
glishara: (Default)
I was going to rant at much more length here, but I am going to cut it down to this:

It is seriously getting soulkilling that my baby cries near-constantly if I'm present and not actively breastfeeding him.

At moments like these, I wish I'd never started breastfeeding in the first place.
glishara: (Default)
...I may be done.

Need to review final chapter, which is reading as more of an epilogue, and may wind up being classed that way. It's very short (under 2K words) and really just sort of ties stuff up and then sets the stage for the next one.

I kind of can't believe that I may be able to put the lid on this one TONIGHT. Aaaaaahhhhhhhh.

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